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Monthly Archives: July 2017

Dealing with narcissists at work

The July/August issue of CPA Magazine features a story about narcissists in the workplace, and how to function effectively with (or despite) them, no matter whether they are your co-workers or your boss.  Yours truly was honoured to be interviewed as an expert source.  Not just an expert source though as I come by some of this knowledge first-hand.  Back in the 1990’s, I (barely) survived an egomaniacal boss and I live to tell the tale!

narcissists and egomaniacs
Narcissism isn’t just confined to the political arena

In recent months, the popular press has been all abuzz about a certain narcissist (no name needed) in international politics.  But unfortunately, Continue reading

Five keys to breaking free from accounting stereotypes

170108_CA-smBean-counters, number-crunchers, pencil-pushers — merely three of the common monikers often used to describe those in the accounting profession — and none of them complimentary. These labels are frequently used to disparage and belittle those who take seriously the responsibility of minding the money.  Unfortunately, negative stereotypes such as these can stunt career prospects and adversely affect the number and quality of new opportunities that come one’s way.  So for those who have aspirations to make their mark in the top echelons of organizations, they need to prove that these negative labels do not apply to them.

How to break free from the stereotypes

This is the topic of my latest regular Leadership column for Canadian Accountant titled Five keys to breaking free from accounting stereotypes.

accounting stereotypes

To summarize, here are the five specific ideas to overcome these negative stereotypes:

  1. Take on different roles
  2. Learn to talk in terms of the big picture
  3. Break the pattern
  4. Get out there!
  5. Above all, be flexible

Well, I’d love to hear your perspectives.  Let me know what you think of my latest column.  Comment here or on the Canadian Accountant website, let us know about your experiences.

Sexual harassment and the C-suite

Sexual harassment in organizations – lately it seems to be non-stop, and quite frankly, it’s increasingly hard to keep up.  Every few days, there is another headline news story about a senior executive (who should have known better) saying or doing something sexually inappropriate to someone junior in his organization.  And that is exactly what prompted my weekend column for The Globe & Mail (which published in Saturday’s print edition).  Regular readers of my blog know that since January 2014, I’ve frequently written for the Leadership Lab series in The Globe, but this latest column is different in that it’s part of their Management series.  Read: Harassment and the C-Suite.

Major favour request

Once you’ve read it, please pass the link on to others in your departments and organizations.  The more people that read, react and comment on this story, the more likely I am to get asked back to write more for The Globe.  Please add your comments directly on The Globe‘s site.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that this series will now become my new home at The Globe, so I’d appreciate (and be eternally grateful for) your support.


Continue reading

Reduce resistance to change by helping employees feel like they have control

For the past six weeks, I’ve been offering up specific actions that leaders can take to successfully implement change in organizations.  In my last strategy in this series, I discussed one way to reduce employee’s resistance to change – reduce uncertainty.  Today’s tip is also about reducing resistance to change, this time: help your employees regain a feeling of control.

Help your employees regain a feeling of control

Just as uncertainty leads to fear, so does a feeling of loss of control.  When people feel like they are losing control, the usual human reaction is to go back to what is known and familiar, to dig in one’s heels and stay with the status quo.  And of course, if you’re trying to implement change, this is exactly the reaction that you do not want.  So as a leader, when you’re working to support your employees through a significant organizational change, one of the most powerful things you can do is help them regain that sense of being in control.

How do you do that?  Continue reading

What creates healthy employees? The Globe’s Employee Recommended Workplace Awards offers insights

ERWAJust over one year ago, I told all of you about this very cool project that was sponsored by my colleagues at The Globe & Mail – a Canada-wide survey that is investigating what companies are doing to foster a working environment that creates engaged AND healthy employees.  The definition of “healthy” doesn’t just mean physical health, but also mental, work and life health.  This year-long project culminated with nine companies receiving the inaugural annual Employee Recommended Workplace Awards last month in Toronto.    Winners were announced in three categories (private, public, and not-for-profit/government) in the small, mid-sized and large groupings, and you can see them here (scroll down to find the list).

What creates healthy employees?

A follow-up story in The Globe on engaged and healthy employees titled The winning formulas for workplace wellness offered an opportunity for each of these companies to list the single factor that they believe caused their employees to rank them so highly.  You can read the entire article at the link I’ve given you, but I’ve listed the nine factors for you below: Continue reading

Reducing employee resistance to change – one approach

Following up on last week’s well-received strategy on leading successful change, here is my next piece of advice in this ongoing series, this time on how to overcome resistance to change from your employees.  The reality is that when employees perceive the change initiative to have a negative impact at a personal level, resistance to change is very common.  What is not as well recognized is that this resistance to change is a very normal reaction.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything as a leader to reduce that resistance to change.  In fact, quite the contrary!

Seek to reduce uncertainty

One idea: reduce uncertainty, particularly in terms of how the change affects your employees at an individual level.  Take the time to speak with each of your staff, individually if possible, and help them gain an understanding of what the change will mean to them.  Uncertainty, left unchecked, transforms into fear, so anything that you can say to reduce that uncertainty will have a positive effect.

When any sort of a change initiative is first announced, your staff are wondering about things like – will I have to learn new stuff, will this affect my workload, will I now report to someone else, will I still have a job? – and all of these cause anxiety.  So take the time to fill in the blanks for them.  Now sure, you won’t always have all the answers yet, but tell them what you know.  Some certainty is better than none at all!  Be forthcoming and honest, and in particular, make it a point to share any positive outcomes.  Anything that you can do or say to reduce uncertainty means that you’ll be better able to overcome your employees’ natural resistance to change.

I have more ideas on this subject of reducing to resistance to change, and you’ll see another tip next week, but in the meantime, as always, I want to know what you think of today’s suggestion.   Does it make sense?  How hard is this to do?  Would love to hear your perspectives, so please comment below.

What school teachers already know about employee training

classroomAs a leader, you recognize the value of investing in training for your employees.  A skilled workforce leads to improved performance and productivity, which means that your staff can do their jobs more effectively on a day-to-day basis.  When people understand their roles, they know how to achieve positive outcomes, and operate more productively.  When you equip your employees with the skills they need to embrace new techniques and procedures, you also maintain your competitiveness.  And when you invest in employee training, you positively impact employee morale and commitment, and eventually performance levels.  All of which means that you want your investment in employee training to not only be useful in the short-term but also last in the long-term!

What makes employee training effective?

So what does it take to make employee training effective?  What is it that ensures that your people are able to understand what is being taught AND influences them to take action?  The answer, not surprisingly, can be found in the education profession.  School teachers are well aware of the value of formative assessment tools to help students learn more effectively.  Essentially, formative assessment strategies are a range of procedures used by school teachers to progressively modify teaching and learning activities when working with students.  And these same tools can be just as powerful when it comes to employee training.  Here are four strategies that teachers use with school children that can be just as effective for leaders to use in the workplace with employees. Continue reading

Tip #4 in our ongoing video series about successful change management

So I’m back today with another installment in my ongoing video series on strategies you can use to be a more effective change management agent in your organization.  Today’s tip is one that very often gets overlooked, to the detriment of the success of the change management initiative.

Tip #4: Recognize and celebrate the good work that was done under the old system

This is a step that is often missed in change management, and it’s a huge pity!  In an effort to “sell” the change, managers sometimes dismiss or minimize any successes of the past.  And that’s a big mistake.  Because when you dismiss or minimize past successes, inadvertently you run the very real risk of leaving long-standing employees feeling unappreciated.  Despite the great things that are to come in the new world, there was a lot of excellent work done in the past.  And if you minimize past successes, you run the risk of alienating the very people who will be helping you accomplish the new reality. Continue reading

Seven messages leaders need to deliver to their customer service team

mikekerr3My professional colleague and friend Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker and the author of six books, including The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank.  He is also my guest blogger today, writing about what it takes to create an organizational culture that is focused on customer service.  Even though I’ve often blogged about specific situations that demonstrate what it takes to build (or destroy) customer loyalty (for example, Tilley Endurables, G Adventures, United Airlines, and Sahara Furniture), Michael’s post today comes at this subject from a more macro perspective.  Good reading, I hope you find it of value as well.

P.S. Michael and I will be sharing the mainstage platform (with two other exceptional speakers) at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary later this year on November 15.  More information about the Summit is at the end of this post below.

A young woman approached me after a talk recently and asked me the following question:  “I’m a brand new leader overseeing a large customer service department and I really want to drive home the importance of customer service,  so what messages could I deliver to help my employees embrace a service-first attitude?”

Seven messages you should heed

Here’s the gist of what I relayed to her –  seven messages I think any customer service leader needs to tell their employees around the topic of customer service. Continue reading